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Vela Announces Introduction of the Border and Ports Security Act

Feb 7, 2018
Legislation

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Congressman Filemon Vela (D-TX), Ranking Member of the Border and Maritime Subcommittee, announced introduction of H.R. 4940, the Border and Ports Security Act along with the Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS). This bill, which has the full support of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), would increase U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)’s capacity to screen passengers and facilitate trade at international airports, seaports and land ports of entry by authorizing additional CBP Officers (CBPOs) and Agriculture Specialists.

“CBPOs, stationed at our ports of entry, screen more than 1 million foreign nationals and U.S. citizens and approximately $6.3 billion worth in imported goods at ports of entry annually,” said Rep. Vela. “The economy of the United States as a whole relies on the critical work that CBPOs perform every day, and it is imperative that our front-line personnel have the support, staffing, and resources they need for a safe and effective work environment.” 

Congressman Thompson added, “Critical staffing shortages at our air, sea, and land ports of entry have forced CBP officers to work 16-hour shifts and take temporary duty assignments. These conditions compromise homeland security, slow legitimate travel and trade that are essential to our economy, and burn out committed CBP officers. This legislation will ensure that CBP has the resources to address its long-standing and well-documented staffing gaps while taking into account the growing volume of trade and travel. I thank Congressman Vela for introducing this much-need homeland security legislation.”

“When it comes to having enough Customs and Border Protection Officers to maintain the safe and secure operation of the 328 U.S. ports of entry, Representatives Thompson and Vela get it,” said NTEU President Tony Reardon. “Their legislation to hire 500 more CBPOs and 100 Agriculture Specialists every year until the agency is fully staffed is the right solution to the current staffing crisis at the ports of entry. CBP needs to hire 3,700 new Officers and 721 Agriculture Specialists, according to the agency’s own workload staffing model, and NTEU is proud to endorse this bill that would put an immediate dent in that contemptible vacancy rate. A CBP Officer and Agriculture Specialist hiring surge would immediately improve employee safety by reducing excessive overtime shifts; facilitate legitimate travel and trade that is currently slowed by the lack of personnel, and improve their ability to prevent the entry of high risk travelers and cargo through the ports.”

In addition to Representative Vela and Ranking Member Thompson, original cosponsors of H.R. 4940 include Representatives Donald Payne (D-NJ), Nanette Barragan (D-CA), Val Demings (D-FL), Lou Correa (D-CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and Kathleen Rice (D-NY).

Bill Fact Sheet

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Media contacts:
(Vela) Mickeala Carter at 202-568-1124
(Thompson) Adam Comis at 202-225-9978